Daily power walks may provide greater health benefits than simply the number of steps covered, according to new research.
The idea of 10,000 steps a day was also challenged by a study, which claimed an average of 7,000 may be enough when it was published in March.
While the new report, released by teams from the University of Sydney and the University of Southern Denmark this week, maintains 10,000 steps is still the “ideal” number for “protective health benefits”, it also adds that people should “aim to walk faster”.
Doing so could reduce the risk of premature death by 8 per cent even if a person only covered 2,000 steps a day; as well as the risk of dementia, cancer and cardiovascular issues by 25 per cent for those taking 3,800 brisk steps a day.
We ask three UAE experts to expound on this theory.
“If you're not very active to start with, just walking 10,000 steps can be greatly beneficial,” says Dr Ruhil Badiani from Cornerstone Clinic. “However, if you already do this, consider upping the pace.
“Getting your heart beating faster while exercising improves your stamina, aids weight loss and reduces bad cholesterol. So, as the study finds, it would make sense that walking faster is more beneficial as it gets your blood flowing.”
Dr Ajay Kaul, a consultant, surgeon and chair of cardiovascular at RAK Hospital, says: “Power walking is a form of exercise in which, besides brisk steps, we need to add movements of other parts of the body, such as the arms. As such, a good walking technique is essential to maximise benefits and reduce injuries.
“The right posture is important: the eyes should be looking forward, shoulders back, with back and head upright. Keep your arms bent at a 90-degree angle, and swing them gently up and backwards, such that the opposite arm and leg are moving at the same time.”
Kaul recommends power walking three kilometres in a span of 30 minutes at least five times a week, which he says “is the best form of exercise for all ages”.
“It is amazing that power walking requires no expensive equipment or technology or gym membership, yet is the best form of exercise to keep fit," he says.
"The recent report aside, various studies have found power walking reduces blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes; and that one hour of this moderately intense exercise prevents serious joint problems, while walking for four hours a week reduces the incidence of fifth fractures. Just ensure you get good shoes and follow traffic rules.”
Medical practitioners aside, a brisk walk is also top of the list for several fitness instructors.
Yasir Khan, a transformational mentor and personal trainer to Indian tennis player Sania Mirza and Emirati content creator Khalid Al Ameri, says the reason power walking is more effective is because it increases the overall number of steps you take per minute.
“It’s one of the most effective ways to increase activity levels, especially for those who haven’t followed a fitness regimen for a long time," he says.
"Brisk walking is also beneficial for people who are prone to injuries or are overweight. Just like any exercise, this method helps with strengthening the immune system, reducing stress and anxiety levels, improving the quality of sleep, muscle endurance and energy levels.
"By having the right gear, setting goals and monitoring your progress, you will be able to make walking a habit, and notice positive changes, physically and mentally.”